Island escape: Himakajima

Himakajima octopus
You can fish and dry your own octopus on the island. At the same time they create a specific atmosphere in the streets of Himakajima.

You will have a hard job counting all the octopus images on this tiny island. Even the police station is shaped like one. Octopus and fugu, that is what it’s famous for. The main industries are fishing and tourism. Himakajima makes a nice escape from Nagoya/Toyota. Welcome to the island without traffic lights! (except for one)

Himakajima biking
Rent a bicycle on the island, it’s tiny!

We recommend to rent a bike. You can peddle around the island in less than 1 hour, stops included. Taking your bike on the ferry costs around 1300 Yen, which is more expensive than to rent one.

Himakajima beach
Himakajima beach. You can go on dolphin spotting tours
Himakajima octopus
They have a thing with octopus
Himakajima fugu
Fugu or ‘pufferfish’. Could be dangerous. I always have to think of Homer trying one in ‘The Simpsons’ 🙂
Himakajima octopus
Local children’s art decorates the island

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Iedereen golft, wij dus ook

De Japanners zijn met ongeveer 127 miljoen. Wist je dat miljoenen daarvan golf spelen? Ik ook niet, maar het is hier echt waanzinnig populair. Japan staat wat golffaciliteiten betreft op de derde plaats, na de V.S. en Canada. Het telt namelijk meer dan 2300 golfterreinen (met dank aan de economische hoogtijden in de jaren 80) en overal zie je plekken waar je je ‘swing’ kan oefenen. Dat deden we dan maar en we waren heus niet de enige vrouwen. Be a Japanese among the Japanse, kind of. Wij bleven in Toyota, maar golfen met met zicht op de kust of op Mount Fuji moet de ultieme beleving zijn.

Verliefd op mijn massosteopaat <3

Twee maanden sukkelen met de rug, we verwelkomden de lumbago en zijn vriend uitputting in ons gezin. De grappige dokter die je een korset meegeeft en zegt te rusten wanneer er een peuter je huis onveilig maakt. Hoe vind ik hier een osteopaat? Na veel uitstellen stond het huilen me op een zondag (jaja, de rustdag) nader dan het lachen en googelde ik de meest nabije masseur. En wat voor eentje: zegt niet te veel en ook niet te weinig, begrijpt dat een buitenlander het van korte zinnen en veel gebarentaal moet hebben en antwoordde voor een Japanner merkwaardig vlot op mijn vragen. Met vlot bedoel ik zonder al te veel ‘ik weet het niets’ en ‘misschiens’ en hij moest het bovendien ook niet aan iemand anders gaan vragen. En bovenal GOUDEN HANDEN! Dan toch traantjes, maar wel van opluchting. Huilen op de massagetafel, zouden de ingetogen Japanners dat al aanshouwd hebben? Of was vooral het stuntelige gedrag in het kleedhokje – hier trek je een speciaal pakje aan om behandeld te worden en leg je je kleren in een mandje – ongezien? Best van al: na drie sessies zei hij dat hij osteopaat is. Mijn geluk kan niet op, kom hier met die meerbeurtenkaart!

I love my masseur


Noodle slides, beers and rugby

A little behind on weekend  posts, so here we go:

Last Saturday we took it easy (Friday we partied;-)), but on Sunday we went to Korankei. It’s a beautiful valley in Toyota where people gather to barbecue and seek refreshment in the water. It was still very hot so we bathed in the river and had noodles from a bamboo slide for lunch.

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Returning from Korankei, we passed near a karting circuit and of course the boys went for a ride on the track.


On the next Friday we welcomed Lisa to our home. Her parents were off to climb Mount Fuji. The next day we went barbecuing with colleagues. Stan took lots of Belgium trappist beers for them to enjoy. Some of them might have enjoyed them a little too much :-). (The alcohol percentage is high and the bottles were emptied really quickly). The location was great and so were the people!

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After that we went to a rugby game in the Toyota Stadium. Next year this prefecture will be hosting the World Cup Rugby and I guess they want to promote it. Unfortunately they lost big time.

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At night we both bought running shoes. Shops are open untill 8PM (or later), even on Sundays. We’ll probably miss this convenience when we go back home.

On Sunday we were invited to a friend’s house for lunch. I’ve always been curious to know how the Japanese live, eat, receive guests, interact… so I was very happy with this invitation. We made sure we brought enough gifts. The Belgian beers -again- were a big success!

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After catching up with our families back home, we went for a run in our new shoes; the perfect ending of a lovely weekend!



Locked-in by Jebi

IMG_1035Typhoon Jebi (categorised as very strong) reached Japan today. Daycare was closed, Japanese class and other activities were cancelled, Stan’s boss recommended to take the afternoon off (but he didn’t), trains were cancelled and so on. To go short: we were locked-in for the day. Luckily we only had to endure strong winds and heavy rains.

About 100km to the west, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe were hit hard. Once again in a short period of time (remember the flooding and the heat wave?), Japan is hit with disaster.

Noises all over today: the typhoon siren, police cars, the wind whistling. Half an hour ago an alarm on our phones went off to draw our attention to a governmental warning of landslides near us…. Currently there is a thunderstorm spectacle going on.

What a commotion!  Belgian media contacted us, but our area was safe (so no minute of fame on radio or tv:)). The upside is that we also got contacted by many of our friends and family and it was nice to hear from them.

Governmental warning on our phones. A little scary, also because it took some minutes to translate it 🙂




Yukata party



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On the agenda last week: the 50th anniversary of Oiden Matsuri (Oiden festival). It’s the biggest event in Toyota City, with dance contests – every year the same choreography to the same song! – and a big firework finale on Sunday. Unfortunately the Saturday program was cancelled due to tyfoon alert (which wasn’t a big deal in the end, but hey, it allowed us to cross off some items on our to do list). More important: the Sunday program went ahead. We would be hosting a get-together at our place, as the 22nd floor seemed to be a very popular spot to watch the fireworks. That is how we ended up with a bunch of people drinking Belgian beers, eating sushi, dressed in yukata*, watching one of the world’s biggest fireworks. City on fire!

* A yukata is the summer version of a kimono (made of coton instead of silk) and you don’t need special origami-skills to put it on. Even so, we were happy to get some help from our Japanese friends. Is this the Japanese version of a pajama party? 🙂

Toyota: the city, not the car

Nerd alert! :-b

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Yes, Toyota City (Toyota-shi) does exist! It’s close to Nagoya, the 5th biggest city in Japan. With 425.000 inhabitants, Toyota is comparable in size to the city of Ghent. Before housing the Toyota Motor Corporation the city was called ‘Koromo’. Koromo is Japanese for clothing, because back in the days the area used to be famous for silk production. As the demand for raw silk declined, the Toyoda family (that owned an automatic loom manufacturing business) had to look for alternatives. One engine led to another and they started investing in the automotive industry. People thought they were nuts! They almost went bankrupt, but they bounced back thanks to the 1950 Korean war (that boosted the demand for military vehicles). In 1959 Koromo changed its name to Toyota as a token of respect to its major employer.

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